‘Journey with the Horse’ is an equine-facilitated activity which I use with clients to help aid self development and learning. As I was thinking of ways to adapt the programme in the winter months, it got me thinking about on my own journey with the horse. Not the workshop I did as a pre-requisite to becoming a LEAP practitioner that was insightful in itself, but about my journey with my first horse Jac.
The beautiful young man up there on the left with the long eyelashes. Who in the three years he has been with me, has now had three homes and settles down quickly within each herd he has been with. Usually passive within a herd, this time he lives out with only mares, so has become quite assertive and I am experiencing a whole different side to him. He is a wise pony, humorous and does not like being stabled (just last night due to the forecast of heavy rains they were all stabled, he undid his bolt to go and stand in the rain all night). He likes people to get on ‘horse time’ with him and I love watching him spend time with clients who get so lost in the here and now with him, they forget I am there, their concept of time and become so peaceful in their surrounding environment.
As a kid I always wanted a pony. I borrowed other peoples horses where possible and in some places we lived it wasn’t possible. I always thought one day I would have a horse, as I grew older that turned into working with them. After school I joined the Special Constabulary with the longer term goal of working in the Mounted Police. After a year in the specials I had my application ready for Merseyside police and they stopped recruiting for 3 years. I joined the Army instead, but as ‘girls can’t join the household cavalry’ my path then took me a different way for a long while. I did sign up for horse riding wherever possible wherever I was. It wasn’t really until 2010 aged 35 that I spotted an advert for Monty Roberts Horsemanship that I remembered my old dream. It probably helped that my life had spectacularly crashed around me, so it was good opportunity to reassess what I wanted from life. I signed up and I worked voluntary for a horse sanctuary and also for a lady who needed help with about 18 horses.
In 2013 whilst I had been fostering my niece for a few years, that little grey pony came into our lives and I am not sure to this day whether I would have bought him for me. You see I had got used to the feeling the horses were for other people, people who knew more and had more money. So I would have talked myself out of it, ‘you don’t have time, money, know how, you’re too old to start this, everyone else has loads more experience’. But here’s the thing, that thought process didn’t apply to my niece. I made it happen for her, something I couldn’t do for my inner child. No big deal, that’s what parents do for their kids all the time. My ‘inner child’ watched as my niece learnt more and more about horsemanship, and gained valuable qualifications that would help gain all those wonderful equine jobs that passed ‘her’ by. She literally sat there within me and watched, filmed or took photos. For a Christmas present one year, she spent days or rather weeks helping me put together footage of 5 years into a movie for my niece called ‘my journey with horses’. On reflection I think she started to get angry with me, and as I didn’t give her time to express herself it became resentment. If I think back to this time I imagine her like a butterfly trapped in a jar, wanting to get out and spread her wings, but I did not take the lid off.
In 2015 as I have mentioned in my blog anger I had a small non-spreadable malignant tumour removed from my solar plexus and I knew this was a nudge from ‘the universe’ about sorting myself out emotionally. I had already had the warning from my body for about a year to get the mole checked and I ignored it. It was easy to write it off as I was dealing with my nieces paralysis, ‘I’ll get to it’, ‘It’s probably nothing, you had a mole removed at 17 and that was nothing’. One night I woke up in pain with blood on my fingers and it turned out I had tried to scratch it out in my sleep. Three weeks later it was cut out professionally, then I received a letter to say they were ‘surprised’ at the result and ‘couldn’t guarantee clear margins’. They hadn’t cut enough out so it could grow back or alternatively my immune system could probably deal with the stray cells and it wouldn’t. I decided to leave it to heal up, boost my immune system and work on the emotional front. I always thought that my resentment was triggered from external sources but I see now it was also internal. My inner child knows what our dreams are, I rarely let her speak as there is always a reason I can’t follow them, not yet. She perhaps just upped the ante on continuing to be ignored.
This year, has been a whirlwind of change and has challenged my resilience and adaptability. For the first time, here I am at the tail end of the year with a pony but without my niece. My inner child stepped up, she knows she can handle it, and for the first time in a long time my adult stepped up with her. My adult made a few ‘big’ and perhaps ‘crazy’ decisions that other adults would question (and they have), but I acknowledge what our dreams are now, and know what I have to let go of and keep hold of to realise them. I know this is my path, it has been very uphill and rocky and I am determined not to step off it again. There have been a lot of obstacles on this journey, the one I am still dealing with now is the part of me that doesn’t believe I deserve my dream. This is the fourth obstacle that Paulo Coelho talks about in his book that I keep close to my heart ‘The Alchemist’ [read more]. I now have to “believe myself worthy of the thing I fought so hard to get, then I help the Soul of the World and understand why I am here”. Pondering on this thought whilst sat in the car having just seen Jac and his friends, I re-discovered a chocolate bar in my bag that a friend bought back from Ireland and on the packaging was a Gaelic blessing I thought apt…
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…” Traditional Irish Blessing
Photo: Juniper Jac, by George McBurney